Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
If you’re using an online dating app, it’s likely that the people you’re arranging dates with are complete strangers to you. The “blind date” scenario can be exciting and there’s a chance that you’ll have a blast, but first date horror stories do happen: Just ask residents of Denver, Colorado.
The victims of more than 50 Denver crimes committed in 2018 say that they met the perpetrator through an online dating app. These crimes include harassment, theft, and assault. One woman even told police that a man she met through a dating app stole $7,500 worth of items from her apartment.
Although these dating app-related crimes only account for a small percentage of Denver’s overall crime, this trend is a good reminder to use common sense and follow some general personal safety tips when going out with someone you don’t know.
Here are a few ways you can stay safe before and during your blind date.
Use a Different Email
Dating apps and sites require you to use an email address when you sign up, but there’s nothing that requires you to use your primary personal email address. Consider creating a new email address specifically for using on dating apps. If things don’t go well, or worse, you meet a real creep, they won’t be able to contact you using your primary personal email, phone number, or the like.
Look Your Date Up
Don’t just take them at their word. You’ve never met this person before, so it’s natural to do some due diligence and run a quick public records search, just to make sure they haven’t committed any major crimes or flagrantly lied to you about their age or identity.
Get Your Own Ride
Chivalry might be alive and well, but it may not be a good idea to take your date up on their offer to “pick you up at home.” Taking your own car or an Uber is safer so you can keep some control of the situation and not give out your home address to a stranger. Having your own ride also makes it easier to decline an invitation to go back to your date’s place, especially when you’re not comfortable doing so.
Meet in a Public Place
This tip is one of the most obvious: Go where the people are. Find spots that are busy, well-lit, and known to be safe. It’s a lot harder for a jerk to be a jerk when there are others around. When in doubt, go on a group date with others you know.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going
Even if you are choosing a public place, there’s always the chance that something goes wrong, and you want to make sure your friends or family know where you are. Make plans ahead of time, and don’t agree to go anywhere else with your date without telling someone where you’re headed first.
Establish a Code Word
Not feeling it? Feeling uncomfortable? Maybe the person you’re on a date with is sending up red flags. Set up a code word that you can text a trusted friend or family member to discreetly call for help. Choose something random that you wouldn’t normally text them, like “rainbow sprinkles.” Make sure your friend knows to keep a lookout for that code word, and make it short, so you can quickly text it if you need to send an SOS.
Do a Little Detective Work
Asking the right questions can help you figure out whether someone’s on the up and up. While on your first date, ask questions like, “What do you like to do in your free time?” Maybe ask them to tell you about their friends. These questions can possibly reveal red flags, or show you that this date really does have potential.